Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi said Saturday his country’s truce plan provided a “real chance” to end the Gaza conflict, stressing the need for its speedy implementation.
“The Egyptian proposal is the real chance to find a solution to the crisis in Gaza and to end the bloodshed,” Sissi told a televised news conference.
“Time is decisive. We have to take advantage of it quickly to douse the fire in the [Gaza] Strip… and to stop the bloodshed of Palestinians.”
A Palestinian delegation is expected in Cairo to discuss a truce, a day after a 72-hour ceasefire brokered by the US and the UN collapsed following an attack Friday on IDF troops that killed two and led to the capture of one, Hadar Goldin, an hour and a half into the truce. Hamas said the attack occurred before the ceasefire went into effect — a claim Israel branded a lie — and denied abducting the soldier.
When the latest Gaza war erupted last month, Egypt — the traditional broker in such conflicts — cobbled together a ceasefire proposal, quickly backed by Israel, Arab governments, the United States and the United Nations, but brushed off by Hamas.
Hamas accused Egypt of coordinating with Israel and bypassing the Palestinian movement when offering the ceasefire proposal.
Sissi, who last year ousted his Islamist predecessor, Mohammed Morsi, had moved to further isolate Hamas, a close ally of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood.
The Brotherhood has faced a brutal police crackdown since Morsi’s overthrow last year.
On Saturday, Sissi insisted that the Egyptian proposal could be the basis to launch negotiations between Israel and Hamas.
“It is the third time that there is Palestinian bloodshed,” Sissi said, referring to earlier conflicts in 2008 and 2012. “We should take advantage of the difficult circumstances… and we have a real chance to put an end to the current crisis and build on it a comprehensive solution to the Palestinian cause.”
At the same press conference, visiting Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi gave his backing to the Egyptian initiative and called for the release of the Israeli soldier.
“I join my voice to the voices of European ministers in calling for the release of the captured Israeli soldier,” Renzi said.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.